THE SHOP

March '19

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24 THE SHOP MARCH 2019 installation, and painting the Wings West product was a snap. All the components looked as if they were OE. The same goes for Air Design USA—we still work with them today, because of the quality." Looking back, the extreme kits of the time were definitely designed to make a big impression. "Many components really didn't have any function, except distinguishing the vehicle from a stock model," he says. "Some of the components actually made the vehicle perform worse (three-tier rear wings, big- mouth front bumpers, etc.). It seemed that functionality of the vehicle took a backseat to the overall look." Some good did come out of the extreme trend, he believes—widebodies. "The concept of wide fenders or bolt-on flares is supposed to allow the vehicle to clear wider wheels, thus providing more traction," he explains. "This impressive modification was initially seen on the DTM tracks in the early 1970s, and quickly ven- tured to the U.S. in 1974 at the Detroit Auto Show. Both Mercedes and BMW had their own versions of widebody DTM racers, while the U.S. had the Chevrolet Corvette Greenwood Widebody." Molina is a fan of today's total widebody projects—except for those that forego wider tires and enhanced horsepower. "It's as if the vehicles skipped leg day," he says. "Some choose to offset the look with spacers instead of obtaining proper multipiece wheels, while others totally disregard the horsepower needed for the added weight. Either route is a mistake, and ignores the intended purpose of the concept." Finally, no discussion of body styling components would be complete without mentioning carbon fiber. Popularized in the early The Fast and the Furious movies around 2000, its origins in racing dated back two decades earlier. "In 1980, the McLaren Racing Team introduced the first carbon fiber-bodied race car in the Formula 1 racing circuit; it was then that carbon fiber began to be used in the automotive industry," Molina notes. "Many parts for racing vehicles were manufactured using carbon fiber, because it is considerably stronger and lighter when compared to SMC or fiberglass. In addition, it maintained the same structural integrity of steel, with 1/10th the weight." Initially, carbon fiber was extremely dif- ficult to acquire by the general population. Slowly, some tuners managed to swap their OEM hoods for a carbon fiber version, and a select few had a CF rear trunk as well. These days, however, enthusiasts can now acquire everything from carbon fiber wheel barrels to interior pieces. "As with all components, CF products also range in quality and price," Molina notes. "If done properly, the carbon fiber will not only save some pounds on a modi- fied vehicle, (but) it can also be used to enhance the aesthetics of the vehicle." Which has been the aim of body kits all along. Start- ing around the year 2000, shows like Hot Import Nights and others gave sport compact enthusi- asts a place to gather and talk shop. (Photos courtesy Projekt Cars) No discussion of body styling components would be complete without mentioning carbon fiber. Popularized in the early The Fast and the Furious movies around 2000, its origins in rac- ing dated back two decades earlier. BODY OF WORK

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